Yoga: Ancient science; not a quick fix
Yoga: Ancient science; not a quick fix. Let’s get the basics right. Yoga is not instant coffee. You cannot learn it instantly and gain the benefits in a jiffy.
Let’s get the basics right. Yoga is not instant coffee. You cannot learn it instantly and gain the benefits in a jiffy. Don’t get carried away by tempting, quick fix titles like ‘How to learn Yoga in a weekend’ or ‘Become a yogini in seven days’.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Founder Isha Foundation in Coimbatore, says, “The word yoga means literally means ‘union’ or ‘to merge’. It is more than a set of physical postures or exercises. It is a science to determine the nature of who you are and what you want to be. When yoga is seen as a life-transforming science and just sitting in a certain way can transform a human being, there must be something powerful about it. If mishandled, it can cause immense damage”.
Latest scientific research shows that the fundamentals of the brain's activity, inner chemistry and genetic predispositions can be changed by practicing certain systems of yoga. Yoga is essentially a technology to change the shape of who you are.
People should have the necessary patience and dedication to learn it. Thousands of years ago, experts who were well aware of inner-realities and human system came up with yoga after years of thorough study and today, people have started tailor-making it into power-yoga, aquatic yoga, sky-diving yoga etc. Do these cross-breeds of yoga, sans authenticity, really deliver?
No, says Pratibha Agarwal of Anahata Yoga Zone which primarily teaches Vinyasa Yoga. Vinyasa yoga is a series of poses that will move you through the power of inhaling and exhaling. Vinyasa movements are smooth flowing and almost dance-like, which explains why it is sometimes referred to as Vinyasa Flow or just flow. Like all styles of yoga, Vinyasa has both mental and physical benefits. Physically, sweat expels toxins and re-energises your body. Mentally, the synchronised breathing relaxes your mind and helps to release any blockage of energy flow throughout your body. As the name flow suggests, these sessions are about movement with the postures synchronised with the breath, and hence lies the challenge of safety if not done with proper alignment and awareness.
A good and trained instructor should always promote a safe practice taking you deeper into the postures over a period of time rather than pushing the students right from the first class in order to achieve results faster. He--she should have a correct and thorough knowledge of the anatomy of the postures to reduce the chances and risks of injuries.
Says yoga practitioner Vinitha, “We need to educate people about the ill-effects of doing it wrong. I learnt yoga through internet and books and landed up with severe lower-back problem, which took years to heal. I enrolled myself in a reputed yoga school which taught me to listen to my body first. They also taught me how to synchronise breath with body movements. Today I practice yoga not just to lose weight but to align my energies.”
Vivek (name changed), a 27-year-fitness-freak, says the much raved Power Yoga classes picking up in metros are nothing but gym workouts focussing only on the physical body with no breath and body awareness or synchronisation. “Youngsters should not get confused between yoga and aerobics/gym. After joining a yoga course which teaches a simple 21 minute kriya for over a week, I learnt how to engineer my interiors better, which automatically brought about a healthy physical body”. Today Vivek also goes to the gym and does his yoga, enjoying benefits of both!
Dinesh Kashikar, international faculty at Art of Living (AOL), says that yoga has much more to offer beyond asanas. “It has something to do with every aspect of life and not just a limited aspect of it – that’s the real benefit of Sri Sri Yoga. He vouches by better relationships too, thanks to the perception AOL offered!
Dinesh elaborates that the word yoga itself comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means to unite, or bring together. Yoga enables mind and body to be together and this union has a lot of benefits”
There’s always been a debate of learning yoga through books and TV as some experts feel its not the right way of receiving yoga. But Dinesh says that technology should be used today to reach out to many people. Suteja echoes his words. “Once people start realising the actual benefits of yoga, in subtler things apart from health and body, their belief multiplies and it becomes more than just a ‘discipline’” .
Benefits of Hata Yoga
Dr Vidya, Hata Yoga teacher trained with Isha Yoga Centre, says, “According to Sadhguru, the physical body has a whole memory structure. If you are willing to read this physical body, how this cosmos evolved from nothingness to this point, everything is written in this body. So when you do asanas you are opening up that memory and trying to restructure this life towards an ultimate possibility, it’s a very subtle and scientific process. The way it is being taught in West and these days in India is deplorable”. Vidya herself underwent a rigorous in-house training in Classical Hata Yoga for six months.
Beware of Book Yoga!!
Says Suteja, Isha Yoga teacher, “Many people have caused immense damage to themselves by learning Yoga through books or CDs. Asanas a subtle way of manipulating your energies. This has to be done with proper guidance and if one attempts without it, he can get into deep trouble.”
She quotes a 1986 survey in NIMHANS, a premium mental health hospital in Bengaluru, which states that in that year, 8 % of inpatients at the hospital who had psychological problems suffered because of practising incorrect yoga.